- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Animal cracker

During the holiday season, children should slumber with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads. Instead, an animal-rights group’s antifur campaign is giving them tormenting nightmares.

So charges the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, referring to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) activists who are menacing children at performances of “The Nutcracker” in 20 U.S. cities — giving them handouts that read, “Your Mommy Kills Animals.”

“The campaign is intended to terrorize young children whose mothers are wearing fur,” the alliance says of the fliers, which show a color illustration of a woman stabbing a rabbit.

“The text implies that a child’s mother who wears fur may kill the family pets. The sooner she stops wearing fur, the sooner the animals will be safe. Until then, keep your doggie or kitty friends away from mommy — she’s an animal killer.”

A spokesman at PETA headquarters in Norfolk didn’t deny the charges when we called, providing the statement: “PETA activists … are making guest appearances outside performances of ‘The Nutcracker’ across the country this holiday season with a cheeky message of compassion.

“As children arrive … PETA will be there to greet any fur-clad moms and their children with their newest antifur leaflet … ‘Your Mommy Kills Animals.’ Kids will see the bloody truth behind their moms’ pretentious pelts. Accompanied by graphic photographs of skinned carcasses and animals [that] never get to swim or have fun. All they can do is cry — just so your greedy mom can have that fur coat to show off when she walks the streets.”

Land of the free

An Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling upholding right-to-work laws is cause for celebration in some quarters of Washington.

The court rejected two separate attempts by union lawyers to deny Oklahoma citizens the right to choose whether to join or support financially a union, upholding Oklahoma’s Right to Work Amendment passed by statewide referendum in September 2001.

The 2-year legal battle was waged by attorneys for former Gov. Frank Keating alongside National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation lawyers from Washington against union lawyers “bent on reclaiming the privilege of compulsory unionism they enjoyed prior to that referendum,” says Stefan Gleason, the NRWLDF’s vice president.

“Today is a great day for Oklahoma. No longer will there be a dark cloud over the Right to Work Amendment that has already resulted in the creation of new jobs, an increase in wages, and more employee freedom, compared to states without such protections.”

Scully scoop

Tom Scully, the Bush administration official who headed the massive Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, has joined the Washington law office of Alston & Bird.

Formerly president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, Mr. Scully’s return to the private sector comes on the heels of the firm’s appointment of Colin Roskey, the Senate Finance Committee lead staffer on the Medicare bill signed into law by President Bush two weeks ago.

During nearly three years with the Bush administration, Mr. Scully, a former deputy assistant to President George H.W. Bush, was known to be one of Medicare’s strongest proponents — and one of its toughest critics. He oversaw insurance coverage for approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population and the second-largest program budget in the federal government.

“Tom Scully was a leading architect of a fundamental restructuring in the way our nation pays for health care services and has arguably done as much as anyone to modernize the system and bring it into the 21st century,” notes Ben Johnson, Alston & Bird’s managing partner.

Among others, Mr. Scully will now be working alongside former Sen. Bob Dole.

Church and state

Leaders of the American Muslim community are encouraging members of the faith to weigh U.S. presidential candidates by their positions on the USA Patriot Act.

Issuing the first of weekly “Election 2004 Updates,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington observes that provisions of the act have been challenged by civil libertarians as infringing on the rights of all Americans.

“Muslims are specifically concerned with section 213 (sneak and peak searches), section 215 (personal records), section 412 (indefinite detentions), and section 802 (definition of domestic terrorism),” says the political update.

“To have a voice in the political process, American Muslims must be aware of the issues that impact their lives and have an understanding of where each candidate stands on those issues,” says council executive director Nihad Awad.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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